Friday, April 3, 2009

A Tale of Two Hitchens, Part II: Peter

Christopher's younger brother Peter is also a journalist. He writes for British tabloid The Mail on Sunday, and unlike Chris, he has strong religious beliefs and has written several articles in favour of intelligent design. Let's look at a few quotes from these:

I didn't give my own view on the [evolution vs. intelligent design] controversy. This can be summarised in the words 'I have no idea who is right... and nor have they'.

Evolution is an established fact, Peter. It's been proven beyond doubt. Just because you are ignorant of the facts doesn't mean that everybody else is too.

'ID' is unlike Darwinism in that it specifically doesn't seek to offer a general theory of the origin of species. It is a sceptical current. It says 'there is something in the Darwinist argument which requires re-examination in the light of knowledge we didn't have until recently'.

The fact that intelligent design is religiously motivated is obvious to everyone, and only a nitwit would claim otherwise. So actually, the various, conflicting branches of intelligent design, like Christianity, Judaism and Islam, do indeed offer very specific theories regarding our origins, to be found in the relevant religious texts. Many pieces of scientific evidence (not just from biology) refute these theories.

Since Darwinism is orthodoxy, on which many careers have been built and continue to prosper, is it likely that an attack which threatens that orthodoxy is going to be sympathetically treated by other scientists?

Since evolution is true, many successful scientific predictions and discoveries have been made in light of it, and continue to be. Is it likely that any predictions that contradict this theory are going to be proven true?

Darwin's theory cannot be tested.

Of course it can be tested, it can also make predictions and can be very easily falsified. The famous example is J.B.S. Haldane's reply when asked what evidence could destroy his confidence in evolutionary theory. He simply answered "Fossil rabbits in the pre-Cambrian".

It is amazing how many supporters of [evolutionary] theory cannot see the difference between the micro-evolution of adaptation or alteration within species, and the far more ambitious developments of macro-evolution, in my view qualitatively different, which Darwinists believe in.

Peter, Peter. Imagine if you had never laid eyes on a dog before and I introduced you to the following two animals:

Could you honestly say that you would consider these animals to be the same "kind"? Their appearance, size and behaviour all differ dramatically, on a macroscopic level. This, right here, is macro-evolution, and it has occured over an incredibly short time (it's been around twelve thousand years or so since humans started to domesticate and selectively breed dogs from wolves). If this amazing variety can be obtained in such a short time, it's really not hard to extrapolate this and imagine what could happen over a few million years.

"Ah," you say, "but I could look at the anatomical structure of these creatures, even their genetic makeup, and I could prove that they are all dogs. They are still the same species." But biologists have applied these exact methods to thousands of living creatures all over the planet, and it turns out that we are all related, and the whole of life on Earth is laid out in a nested hierarchy, just as predicted by Darwin's theory:

The Tree of Life

As you might imagine, Peter and Chris don't get on so well. You can watch a terrific debate between the Hitchens brothers here.


Dan said...

To be fair, chihuahuas were not bred from wolves, but from fennec foxes.

Luke O'Dell said...

Ah. Thanks for the post Dan, I didn't know that.

Actually, a little googling tells me that the origins of chihuahuas are not known for sure. Apparently they can be bred with other dogs but not with the fennec fox...

Anyway, my point still stands that the huge variety in dog breeds is a clear example of macro-evolution that has occured over just a few thousand years of artificial selection.

Anonymous said...

Just because someone draws nice little diagrams with this organism leading to that organism doesn't mean it happened. Most of life follows a similar pattern as far as using DNA but some life is completely different. The genes are often very different and reside on completely different chromosomes. There is no evidence for how this organism led to the next one. Your camp would say we haven't yet found the “intermediaries”. That's because there are none. Show me the evidence that one organism has led to another and how. Just saying it happened doesn’t make it “fact”.

Anonymous said...

And your dogs aren't evidence of macro or any other kind of evolution. Just selective breeding. Maybe you should be more careful about calling people cretins.